Cameron: Disney’s ‘Avatar’ land to look, feel, smell like Pandora

Sept. 21, 2011 | 6:39 a.m.
avatar2 Cameron: Disneys Avatar land to look, feel, smell like Pandora

"Avatar" (WETA / 20th Century Fox)

When James Cameron’s “Avatar” hit theaters in 2009, many moviegoers were so dazzled by the lush, 3-D world of the alien moon Pandora that they wanted to step right inside. Now the Walt Disney Co. is aiming to offer that kind of experience to its theme park patrons.

Disney’s Imagineers are working with Cameron, his producing partner Jon Landau and studio 20th Century Fox to bring the fantasy world from “Avatar” to its theme parks, beginning with a multi-attraction themed land at the Animal Kingdom park in Orlando, Fla.

Though the attraction is still in its earliest development stages, Cameron has clear ideas about what he’d like any Pandoran land to include, which he shared in an interview on Tuesday.

“I definitely want to do a flight attraction of some kind,” the director said, citing the “Soarin’ Over California” flying ride at Disney’s California Adventure Park in Anaheim as a personal favorite. “Flying is a big part of the movie. One of the things people liked the most at test screenings was going up into the floating mountains in the flying sequences. We may have banshees, Leonopteryxes, maybe some other flying creatures that don’t make their appearance until the second and third films.”

Disney’s Imagineers will also be tasked with bringing Na’vi culture and the natural world of Pandora to life, along with creating “a  general sense of the future,” Cameron said.

“It all needs to be one fabric,” he said. “As long as it’s thematically consistent, as long as it looks and feels and smells the way you imagine it, then we’ve succeeded.”

The hugely successful Wizarding World of Harry Potter at Universal Studios Orlando, which depicts the universe created in J.K. Rowling’s books and Warner Bros.’ films right down to the mugs of butter beer for sale at concessions, provides something of a template for a theme park attraction that is faithful to its source material.

As Rowling was with the Potter theme park, “Avatar’s” creators say they will be hands-on in developing the attraction.

Groundbreaking for the “Avatar” land at Animal Kingdom is planned for 2013, but the attraction isn’t scheduled to open until 2016, after the premieres of the “Avatar” sequels in 2014 and 2015.

To linger a bit longer on Pandora in the meantime, see this story with Dawn C. Chmielewski on the theme park plans, or look back at some of our “Avatar” coverage from the past.

— Rebecca Keegan


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15 Responses to Cameron: Disney’s ‘Avatar’ land to look, feel, smell like Pandora

  1. Shane says:

    Nobody better touch my extruded pineal gland!

  2. james says:

    While I generally enjoyed the look of Avatar, the story had not one surprising moment and left me kind of disappointed. That said, Avatar is PRIME for a live, interactive experience. Imagine a "ride" that lets you control a Navi (probably CGI projection) — I dunno. Maybe Cameron should just direct Disney attractions. I could do without the sequels, but count me in for the Disney experience.

  3. Nerdlor says:

    The Pandora wikia tells me that Pandora's atmosphere contains hydrogen sulfide (you know, that lovely rotten egg odor)… I'm not so sure going for that authentic Pandora small is such a great idea.

  4. guest says:

    Animal kingdom? It should go in tomorrow land. Animal kingdom is about animals of different lands.

    • Josh says:

      Wayyyyy off. I worked in Animal Kingdom. It doesn't just focus on animals, also the cultures of Asia and Africa. It even has insects and mythical stuff that doesn't exist such as the yeti and dragons. If Pandora is to exist, it belongs in Animal Kingdom.

  5. guest says:

    I'm not crazy about Avatar. Sure, it has a spectacular scope and look to everything, and Jimmy Cameron surely has talent as a director, but for me the visual effects and the musical score was the only thing to make a major shout about. I understand there are several Avatar freaks out there that will probably think crap about my comment. But this is just one person's opinion, remember. I think the sequel's will get worse and worse but do great in the box office like the first one.

  6. Bill says:

    I don't like the whole "Avatarland" proposal for Animal Kingdom. I think Disney should update Future World instead (Imagination Pavillion, Universe of Energy, Wonders of Life).

  7. Heather says:

    I think it's pretty cool, and actually makes me want to go to Florida just to visit it.

  8. A_2 says:

    Fox Studios is Disney?

  9. Avatar Terrible Film says:


    No, thanks. I'll pass.

  10. Faith D. says:

    Give me a dragon and a unicorn, a griffin and a chimera instead of a 10 foot tall blue alien anyway. I would rather have mythical creatures from THIS planet then the stuff from Cameron. Plus, it seems rather outlandish to have Avatar in a park themed around animals and nature.

    If anything, put it in Hollywood Studios, where there are already movie themed attractions. That would make much more sense.

  11. anonymous says:

    THIS IS EPIC! sure it's a publicity stunt, but wait for it to open before u criticize

  12. VIVROD says:

    Everyone who has negative thoughts about AVATAR must be NA'IVE. AVATAR has brought a sense of tranquility and peace to this world of greed and selfishness. AVATAR should be in the hearts of DISNEY since it has been the only true place of peace to millioins of people from all over the world.AVATAR should exist and can exist only at DISNEY!

  13. Ka'ula says:

    I see alot of negative comments and that saddens me. I loved Avatar; I saw it as a world made of peace and full of life that earth can never think to have. Personally, I'd love to see the sequels, though they are never as good as the first. James C is a brilliant director and his actors are just as amazing. The whole theme park idea sounds cool and I'd probably go see it, but there is a problem with it.
    Pandora is beautiful and I don't think it can be captured in a theme park. And the Na'vi are half naked, ten foot, blue people. May not be the best for young children unless you dress the Na'vi up (which takes away from the actual image).
    But none the less I would probably go see it once and if i like it id go again.

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